Solving some of the space concerns at Tekamah-Herman is progressing—but getting there will take longer than expected.
During a work session March 26, the school board heard an update on what is known as Phase I, renovation of the former Tekamah Motors building, while meeting with its consultant Russ Koch and Mike West and Bob Soukup with Carlson West Povondra, the architects for the renovation.
Superintendent Dan Gross said the meeting was a chance to sit down as a whole group and discuss ideas.
“We wanted to get everybody on the same page,” he said. “There’s not one small group of people driving this bus, so it’s important that we all know what each other is thinking.”
Plans now call for the Ford building to be occupied with the start of the second semester next year, January of 2020.
Gross told the Plaindealer the delay is necessary in order to make the best learning environment possible with the space.
“We thought an August completion was too aggressive,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for our career education programs and we want to do it right.”
The building is scheduled for a new roof this summer and inside demolition is slated to begin soon. The building’s 12,000 square feet will be turned into classroom space for the district’s agriculture, welding, small engines and woodworking classes. Plans also call for a commons area and meeting space.
But what happens after the building becomes occupied?
The change makes some space available in the main high school building and vacates the old Trades and Industries building on the west side of 13th St.
Gross said a lot of ideas were discussed but none of them have been finalized.
Among them is turning the vacated ag classroom and welding shop in the 1955 addition of the main building into a fine arts center. The space would take advantage of the proximity to the band and vocal music rooms and move the art room out of the basement into a bigger area.
Different plans are being considered for the T&I building and the other property the district owns along 13th St. south of the school. Under the agreement with Tekamah Community Foundation that helped fiance the purchase of those buildings, the property has to be razed by next spring.
Gross said the district is exploring demolition procedures and estimated costs, “but we’re not yet to the point of what will go there.”
The only building along main street the district doesn’t own is the veterans hall. Gross said conversations have been held with the vets regarding a purchase, “but what they want to do is up to them and we’ll adapt to whatever they decide. We certainly don’t want to chase them out.”
The board also discussed a variety of other facility-based subjects during the three-hour meeting. Among them were the needed updates to the science classrooms and the family and consumer science room. Other ideas discussed included closing some streets around the school—a decision which ultimately will be up to Tekamah City Council should the option be pursued. The group also discussed the house next to the bus barn, the house on the west end of the bus barn block, both portable classrooms—one of which will be vacated at the end of this school year, the future of the field house and the Herman school building, improvements to the cafeteria and kitchen, a second gymnasium and a storm shelter.
Some of the plans are expected to be discussed at the board’s April 8 meeting.